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WVU suture workshop offers crucial introductory ophthalmic training to medical students

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The skills highlighted during the session are some of the most important tools in an ophthalmologist’s toolbelt and learning and practicing them early, even as a medical student, is crucial.

A group of medical students sitting at a classroom table (Image Credit: AdobeStock/rh2010)

(Image Credit: AdobeStock/rh2010)

The West Virginia University Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences recently hosted a training workshop to hone the skills needed to perform delicate ophthalmic procedures.

According to a university news release, the department hosted the suture workshop for the students in the WVU School of Medicine’s Ophthalmology Interest Group. The program was hosted by Geoffrey Bradford, MD, professor and director of medical student education, and Bradley Thuro, MD, assistant professor and residency program director, with a goal of introducing students to the importance of dexterity for ocular surgeries.

“When it comes to ocular procedures such as suturing, we as ophthalmologists are quite literally threading the needle,” Bradford said in the news release. “It’s important that an ophthalmic surgeon’s hands remain steady in order to pass the tiny needles we use carefully through sensitive parts of the eye, using suture that is often finer than a strand of human hair.”

Moreover, according to the university, Bradford explained the procedures are also performed under high magnification, which makes hand steadiness even more important for an ophthalmologist to possess. These skills, he explained, are some of the most important tools in an ophthalmologist’s toolbelt and that learning and practicing them early, even as a medical student, is crucial.

The university noted the suture workshop began with an introductory lecture led by Bradford and Thuro, followed by a hands-on training session. Students were given a needle and thread, which they practiced suturing on pieces of raw chicken. As students practiced their suturing techniques, guidance and assistance was provided by faculty members, as well as some of the fourth-year medical students in the interest group.

Among those students in attendance was third-year medical student Sarah Shabih, who said she appreciated the opportunity to work on developing these key skills in a controlled setting.

During a suture training workshop hosted by the West Virginia University Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, students were given a needle and thread, which they practiced suturing on pieces of raw chicken. (Image courtesy of West Virginia University)

During a suture training workshop hosted by the West Virginia University Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, students were given a needle and thread, which they practiced suturing on pieces of raw chicken. (Image courtesy of West Virginia University)

“Hands-on training opportunities like this are probably some of the most valuable experiences a medical student can gain,” Shabih said. “I really enjoyed the chance to get to learn from and work directly with the ophthalmology faculty. As someone who is relatively new to the field of ophthalmology, I especially appreciated the fact that I got to do it in such a positive and judgment-free setting.”

According to the university, Bradford pointed out the atmosphere is just what the workshops are designed to promote, and he is hopeful that students find the lessons valuable and leave the program with a sense of achievement and a continued interest in ophthalmology.

Bradford noted in the university news release that through the workshops, the department hopes to encourage interested medical students to consider ophthalmology as a future career in medicine

“As an instructor, I enjoy observing the expressions of accomplishment on students’ faces as they gain dexterity and confidence while practicing during the suture workshop,” he concluded. “It is my hope that the students enjoy this experience as much as I do.”

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